SUSBIND sparks discussion of the future for Net Zero furniture

The 12th International Conference on Wood Adhesives  (ICWA) was successfully held May 11-13, 2022 in Portland, Oregon, USA with the active contribution of the SUSBIND Team, represented by Wood K Plus, Cargill, IKEA and the Project Coordinator RTDS.

@IKEA produced the SUSKET box

This premier technical conference on advances in the adhesion of wood and biomass is held ever 3-4 years, and due to the pandemic, it was the first conference since 2017.Delegates from around the world gathered and attended this 3-day event investigating and discussing the latest developments from the world of adhesives.

SUSBIND, an EU funded Horizon/Biobased Industries Joint Undertaking funded research and innovation project in collaboration of six research and five industrial partners has made substantial progress in developing highly sustainable bio-based binders. It is envisaged that these binders will in future replace the conventional fossil-based ones currently used for wood-based panel boards in furniture mass products.

In the framework of the project, SUSBIND showcased the innovative solutions in terms of novel technologies, both for the enzymatic conversion of lipids and thermo/chemical conversion of carbohydrates which are scalable and applicable in numerous industrial relevant environments.

The results were impressively demonstrated in the first prototype product based on the successful EKET range of IKEA.  This “SUS-EKET” has zero formaldehyde and uses bio-based binders from carbohydrates and vegetable oils.  Both integrated particle boards from Egger and MDF units from Valbopan were utilised.

Due to the key ingredients and due to the pressing the boards show a slightly darker colour compared to commercial boards. “This “Feature” – is a sign of proof of the bio based nature of the boards” says Mikael Muegge Senior Manager at RTDS.

@IKEA darker board with the SUSBIND biobased adhesive

While there is still room for optimisation on formulation and facilitation of pressing time, the boards pass all the set requirements.

The SUSBIND binder aims at containing a significantly lower carbon footprint, and reducing formaldehyde emissions, and thus making a meaningful contribution in improving the public health and helping mitigate climate change. Hand in hand with the EU’ Green Deal targets, SUSBIND also provides cutting-edge clean technological innovation by converting carbohydrates and vegetable oils to binder precursors by “mild” technologies.

Accordingly, SUSBIND under the management of Stephen Webb and Mikael Muegge (RTDS) held a 30-minute podium discussion with leading industry and scientific experts  Manfred Dunky, Massimo Bregola from Cargill, Erik van Herwijnen from Wood K plus and Venla Hemmilä from Inter IKEA Group fostering international dialogue between stakeholders identifying the criteria, opportunities and constraints to successfully produce and market net zero emission furniture. In this framework, SUSBIND showcased its key findings and results and the relevance these innovations (e.g. formaldehyde free products) have in the EU and USA.

@RTDS: Venla Hemmilä of IKEA and Massimo Bregola of Cargill at the Conference.

Looking at the critical point in the movement towards Net Zero Furniture the group looked at three key aspects, namely sourcing, production and marketability of such novel solutions.
In terms of sourcing Massimo Bregola from Cargill, made it clear that key aspects such as availability of raw materials and their limitations, food vs non-food sources and their relationship going forward are key priorities.

Manfred Dunky, leading industry expert added that the question of availability has two levels: for niche products for the start to implement this technology, and at an all industrial scale which requires very different parameters, some of which may not even exist in Europe.

For Venla Hemmilä from Inter IKEA Group these initiatives are clear game changers

For IKEA “sustainable furniture” have the potential to be a “game changer”. It is clear that a number of steps needs to be done by the various stakeholder groups to enable these advancements to be part of a pivotal moment.